My last image of Perdu was a mundane one. The drug-addled, alcoholic, brain-dead swine we worked for had just admitted the company was flat-broke.
For an enterprise best known through word of mouth, throughout the industry its new name became “mud.” So many bridges were burned, including ones on drawing boards, no hope existed of any lifelines.
Solvent on Friday, tapped out on Monday.
Our former co-workers with families were beside themselves. Even whatever might’ve been provided as severance had been squandered.
Since screaming and yelling wouldn’t have restored our jobs, much less one dollar, I went into Perdu’s office. Her face reflected she’d fought the good fight for bad people. Our only recourse was to skip that popsicle stand.
From sudden fatigue we only commiserated a quick second about our indebted and dependent-laden now ex-colleagues. The apt response to so much waste and imminent worry issued through me by way of Casablanca.
“Everybody has problems. I’m sure yours will work out.”
Easy for me to have said. Easier for us both to have ruefully laughed at. Mortgages and children burdened neither of us. We just carried surfeits of cynicism.
Naturally we promised to remain in contact. Naturally that promise evaporated shortly after it left our lips. Near the end of 2011, when we last spoke, our chit-chat lasting a rushed few minutes, she loafed at her family’s Florida Gulf Coast time share while I decompressed in Southern Arizona.
Here’s what should’ve formed my last image of Perdu: she sits in a swank apartment somewhere on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Probably one of those addresses my younger and more impressionable self once strolled past, through whose windows I saw residents sitting down to Saturday night repasts before going out and indulging in Gotham.
Before below 14th Street lost its menace and gained cachet. Before Condé Nast acquired Details and through its demise from gritty ‘zine into slick magazine helped speed the transformation of the Lower East Side into an attraction rather than destination.
A mid-autumn afternoon. By the light, early evening. Sunset has given shadow and murk to this November hour.
Perdu sits alone in the dark. Were she to have switched on illumination, light would’ve revealed the room’s cosmopolitan luxury. She sits and idles in the sort of living room art directors might giddily have laid out and had photographed in glossy design and architectural magazines.
Perdu. She sits and cools her jets.
The apartment floats on a floor high enough to see the sun’s remnants outline the Palisades in deepest umber until yielding to violet. Perdu sits and waits for a man who barely tolerates her. To him she is ready to commit heart and soul.
On a Saturday night, young, affluent individuals like Perdu and her absent man, each a privileged professional, should be together wallowing in all New York City avails to such a pair. Instead, he attends a live performance of a band whose taste is acquired. Sort of like listening to the Grateful Dead. And just like the Dead’s most fervid fans, he spares no effort being present at its live showcases.
Being moneyed raises these instances into high double figures. Work schedule be damned, he trails the headliners across the country.
The boyish-man pursues them across North America yet extends the slightest affection and attention Perdu’s way. Even those courtesies are sparing. This fool treats her with galling indifference.
A curly-haired blonde, Perdu is sharp. She is cute, short and shapely, and effortlessly sexy. None of that self-doubt about her looks that attractive women often use as bait to fish for esteem-stroking compliments, thankfully.
In business, the woman who sat across the desk or conference table was keen. Clients quickly got past her looks when they realized a nimble intellect resided behind her lively blue eyes. She wasn’t some dizzy strawhead. Taken to an extreme, or as seen by insecure men, she could’ve been mistaken for a ballbuster. Instead she limned her focus with playfulness. Especially beyond work.
Rather than practice self-reverence, Perdu laughed at herself. Her favorite response to instances of her own wrong-footing was “Ooopsie!”
At times during summers at her favorite Connecticut Gold Coast beach she’d wear bathing costumes that thanks to her buxom carriage and the material’s peculiarity, revealed more than intended. Breezes off Long Island Sound habitually stippled her nipples. When she sported Lycra one-pieces, strong enough gusts faithfully outlined the two crowns easily resembling roughened pencil erasers.
For those not around to witness such peak feats, she’d perform a quick pantomime. Index fingers laid across chest, Perdu would then spring them at her audience. Of course she’d provide an appropriate sound effect.
While “Ooopsie!” allowed her to shrug off the natural phenomena, it never took this male’s mind much to imagine what husbands and boyfriends enjoying the strand with their wives or girlfriends thought. Less so than the likely universal displeasure of their significant others.
But to Perdu’s detriment she was also brittle, not tough. Too few men in her short past allowed for that. Or they did and decided torturing her, perhaps amusing themselves somehow by exploiting the last.
She ought have been cherished, not tormented.
On the other hand, was there a part of her which sought out specimens who diminished her pleasure? Who denied her delight? Hard to say because how could a colleague ever have posed that question?
Maybe I shouldn’t have been so reserved. After all, who else did Perdu trust enough to confide that her then wilting paramour failed fulfilling her intimate requirements? That indeed, “John” wasn’t busting her block with any frequency or sufficiency.
Instead of bending themselves towards the effervescent 33-year-old blonde, “John” and his ilk squandered their chances, emptily expended her youth and loveliness, while leaving her further bereft of happiness. The several who witnessed Perdu at her worst reacted abominably. None showed gallantry. Especially the “John” she wasted herself pining for at the end of our acquaintance.
Perdu was smart yet fragile. She suffered maladies specific to our time. Angsts. Sexual dissatisfaction, recreational drug use that sometimes threatened taking her over the edge, into the abyss where our erstwhile employers found succor. Add to that a treadmill of pill-delivered cures which invariably sparked other symptoms “solved” through prescribing different goofballs to counteract the previous goofballs. Each subsequent remedy merely exacerbated her turmoil and never provided relief.
She suffered episodes whose modern-day distresses combined with remedies to alleviate them transformed her into frightful states. The “John” in whose aerie she waited witnessed one. Rather than demonstrate any chivalry he bolted. The incident only needed his presence to comfort her as she recovered from this bout. Instead he turned tail, showing his truest colors in the clearest manner.
Shouldn’t such timidity have dismissed him from her indulgence? She ought’ve and could’ve met better men. But given her weakness Perdu preferred huddling against disappointments, fellows who fell far short in those man departments.
Didn’t Perdu find favor with men ambiguous regarding their own sexuality or others who ambivalently viewed her sterling? How could a woman offering so much be attracted to such shitbags?
Nonetheless what she occasionally demanded was worth the effort. Her Platonic admirers subscribed to wholeheartedly to this evaluation. However, Perdu remained blind and deaf to their high regard.
She’d rather sit in thickening darkness, waiting for a boyish-man who’ll never awake to the treasure presented. Perdu was a tragedy. A willing one. Her self-loathing pained me.
Let me write about Perdu. Time and distance have estranged us. Having been observed, having been adored, she now becomes a topic. Time and distance can render people into subjects.
Perdu and I toiled at a family-run firm. It succumbed to the Curse of the Third Generation. It devoured everyone who worked there.
The boss never prepared either of his halfwit sons to take over, much less become men. So he handed it off to his nitwit daughters who partied and neglected their patrimony, our livelihood, off a cliff.
The old man had a knack of drawing clever staff. Perdu had been his last capable hire. Properly supported she might’ve papered over his daughters’ kamikaze office skills. Unfettered couldn’t she have maintained standards and have kept us all in suburban splendor?
Our increasingly chaotic work environment bled into Perdu’s personal sphere. Unlike colleagues who compartmentalized, our place of employment constantly hampered her beyond its hours and walls. At days’ ends, she never dropped these burdens at the door. When and where didn’t they accompany her?
Eight months before our employment abruptly ended, Perdu collapsed. Physically, yes, but mostly through mental exhaustion. One benefit of living among Cold Coast Connecticut suburban splendor: instead of being shipped to and warehoused in some sterile state facility a stumble or two above bedlam, the patient gets bundled off to a plush psychiatric bin, there to be swaddled in cooing therapy consisting of soothing nostrums.
Upon her return, we didn’t discuss her treatment. It never came up. Yet she did reveal one sequence which surely derived from her cure: the drugs administered, the personnel, her fellow residents, strange surroundings. These were vivid dreams, as she called them.
Or maybe her subconscious recognized these instances as indelicacies of a sexual nature.
Whatever happened occurred at night. Between awake and dreaming, her state unsure and logy thanks to that day’s scheduled narcotized compound.
During her vivid dreams, Perdu had control of her body but yielded it to a stranger. Whether it was the same person or man or woman she never discerned. While she possessed the power to hamper or thwart these intrusions, she never did. Perdu preferred submitting.
The involuntary gratification afforded should’ve been enervating. Instead, what part of her being didn’t it arouse, challenge, or soothe? Manipulated as such satisfied her. So much so she considered these nebulous ministrations a truer “cure” than the proper palliatives dosed in sterile rooms within groups or one-on-one sessions.
By further imagining these scenes transpiring among friendlier surroundings – her bedroom – Perdu heightened her gratification. Seeing it my way, maybe this enclosure served as a football stadium might’ve, with her stuffed animal collection sufficing as the roaring crowd as she and whoever went at it on the 50-yard line.
Through relocation, Perdu performed on her home stage. In these vivid dreams, she’d leave the front door unlocked. The stranger would steal inside the darkened house silently. Instinct and cat eyes allowed the man, woman (hermaphrodite?) to wend around furniture and mount stairs leading to her bedroom.
There, face planted in pillows, an eiderdown her mantle against the room’s chill, one found a resting Perdu; where one would always find her.
Flipping back the cover exposed Perdu’s smooth bare legs. Fingertips slid up both lengths until loose shorts hid where thighs merged into buttocks. Sometimes the sleeper’s movements hiked one or both brief pants leg above that hemisphere forming her sweet rounded rear.
She’d feel a nose and lips trace the fold where the respective muscle masses joined. Sometimes a mustache scratched her skin. Other times unbound hair strands preceded these forays.
Her visitor or visitors shared an ability to remove Perdu’s lower garment. She likened it to swiping a table cloth off the table without mussing plates and glasses.
Whoever knelt behind her that night never neglected his or her nails. One finger, occasionally two, snaked between Perdu’s thighs. Here, they’d gently tease her hidden folds before the digit became an implement that inserted third-knuckle joy.
As good preludes ought, these had Perdu hungering for more. Instead that evening’s secret sharer preferred prolonging this moment unto the cusp of excruciation. Already anticipating what followed, Perdu’s minor rapture often verged on anguish.
How soon until what she desired offered full release? Eh? How soon is now?
Perdu believed her unknown must’ve known his/her subject better than she knew herself. Instilled with prescience, the mystery pleasuring the acquiescent prone woman gauged the exact limit where the exquisite might’ve turned into needless agony.
Disengaged now, Perdu’s dorsal secret sharer clasps one wrists in each hand. Still facing away, her legs veer outside the other’s thighs. The foreplay after a fashion having amply fulfilled its intention, a hard sure cock finds her and plunges repeatedly and remorselessly.
The mass and weight behind her were seldom the same. Some nights she received less urgency and lighter force. Other nights, pubic patches the consistency of scouring pads scratched her ass. It never occurred for Perdu to twist around, to face who pleasured her.
Her legs dangle upright. Discordance escapes from Perdu’s diaphragm. It grinds out of her throat. The pair’s initial arrhythmia settles into furtive harmony.
Sometimes the mysterious love cudgel is of flesh driven by blood and pounding through muscle. Others it is an attached appendage. When it’s the latter, perverse, funny Perdu further prays the device is black.
She had no idea how long these interludes lasted. She only remembered that she’d been launched across the edge. All ended upon awaking, calm daylight shattering sensational night.
Each instance improved Perdu’s state of being.
Quick scans of the room never showed any intruder’s presence. At least not an untoward one. Whenever Perdu examined herself after these vivid dreams, she noticed nothing amiss beyond the expected ordinary tangle of bedding.
So hers were dreams? Or projections?
Here’s why in my preferred last view of Perdu she sits in the dark. Not so much waiting for the simpleton willfully neglecting her to make a cameo appearance. But in the possibility that who engaged her while in the Land of Nod may deliver the same in our waking world.